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2018 Jp Dirt ’N Drive: 100+ Jeeps Caravan To Moab

Posted in Jp Dirt N Drive: 2018 on June 1, 2018
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Photographers: Trenton McGeeTraci Clark

Morning comes early on Jp Dirt ’N Drive. A quick breakfast while the sun is rising, pack the Jeep, then there’s the driver’s meeting, and we’re off and running. Or I should say driving, as that’s what the event is all about. One hundred Jeeps of all vintages, models, and builds, and their occupants, join us for a three-day drive through the beautiful backcountry of America on as many dirt roads as possible.

The 2018 Jp Dirt ’N Drive presented by Jeep event began in the Phoenix, Arizona, area and took a route that was made up of about 50/50 dirt and pavement to Moab, Utah, for the start of Easter Jeep Safari week. The setup was similar to past years, beginning with a check-in/on-site registration day during which participants could check out each other’s rigs, make new friends and connect with old pals, and meet with sponsor representatives to talk about new parts and accessories for Jeeps. The first trail day saw our caravan climb through the central highlands of Arizona on the way to Flagstaff. For the full story on Part 1 of 2018 Jp Dirt ’N Drive check out: fourwheeler.com/jp-dirt-n-drive/2018/1805-2018-jp-dirt-n-drive-three-day-jeep-adventure.

An area called The Cinders (Cinder Hills OHV Area) was the first of many destinations on our second trail day. The landscape is made up of numerous volcanic cinder cones and craters with a ponderosa pine forest thriving in the volcanic soil. Although it looked like black sand from a distance, it’s much more coarse and abrasive. There were wide-open expanses of cinder to play in, and tall hills of it to climb. It was a fun place for a mid-morning Jeep play break. You just had to watch out for the trees.

Within 30 minutes of starting our second trail day we were in The Cinders (Cinder Hills OHV Area). This was our first open play area of the day, and we spent some time doing donuts in the bowls and climbing the hills in this region of volcanic cones and craters.

The route to our next stop took us through mixed forests, chaparral, and grasslands (and some highway) to Grand Falls on the Navajo reservation of northern Arizona. Grand Falls is a waterfall system with multiple steps totaling 185 feet in height, taller than Niagara Falls, and during periods of heavy rain or snowmelt the falls are at full flow and make a thunderous roar. However, it’s dry much of the year (as it was when we visited in late March) and reduced to a trickle. This was our midday lunch break, and the view out, over, and into the waterfall and the deep gorge created by it was spectacular.

Once our bellies were full and lots of photos of Grand Falls had been taken, we got back on the trail and made the 70-mile trip to the Hopi Cultural Center. The Hopi reservation is located in the middle of the Navajo Nation and in the general direction of our eventual destination. It was the perfect stop for snacks, coffee, restrooms, and there were historical and cultural displays. The nearby gas station overflowed with dozens of Jeeps for the next 30 minutes. We had already come 130 miles (mostly dirt) and there was another 80 miles to go that day. Stocking up before heading on to the Kayenta Monument Valley Inn for the night seemed like a good idea.

Our last trail day of the 2018 Jp Dirt ’N Drive began with a short highway cruise to Monument Valley. At this point, some participants chose to stop and enter Monument Valley Tribal Park (there is a park fee) for close-up views of the Mitten Buttes (commonly called “The Mittens”) and Merrick Butte, sandstone towers soaring as high as 1,000 feet above the valley floor. Guided tours that get you even closer can be arranged. Even if you’ve never been to Monument Valley, you’ve seen it. It has been the backdrop for countless movies, in particular many of director John Ford’s Westerns starring John Wayne. We chose to stop and take a look from what has become known as “Forrest Gump Point.” It’s not close up, but it was a grand view, and it was free.

With its dramatic views Grand Falls made a perfect lunch stop, and was undoubtedly the highlight of the third trail day on the 2018 Jp Dirt ’N Drive.

Not much farther up the highway, the primary route veered onto dirt. Soon we were in Utah, although there were no signs on the trails we were traveling. The next few hours were spent exploring a combination of roads, open rolling hills, canyons, creeks, and red rock sandstone country, all of it dotted with remote ranches and farms. This was one of those areas in which careful attention to the 2018 Jp Dirt ’N Drive route book with its mileages, GPS coordinates, and turn-by-turn instructions created with assistance from CartoTracks really came in handy.

There were breaks of highway in between spans of dirt road, and plenty of scenery and Poker Photo Challenge locations along the way. After stopping for fuel tank top-offs and refreshments in places like Twin Rocks Trading Post in Bluff, we finished the last leg of the day from Blanding, flying the highway north to Moab, Utah, where the 2018 Jp Dirt ’N Drive arrival dinner and raffle was held at Canyonlands by Night.

As always the event was crowned Sunday night with a complimentary BBQ dinner spread, and the exclusive opportunity to check out some of Jeep’s Easter Jeep Safari concept vehicles—this year it was the Sandstorm and Wagoneer Roadtrip concepts. By the time people were heading back for seconds, the raffle for prizes donated by the 2018 Jp Dirt ’N Drive sponsors had begun. At the end of the evening, everybody was happy, bellies were full, and goodies ranging from tires to hats to a 2018 Jeep JL grille autographed by the Jeep design and engineering team had been handed out.

If you missed this year’s Jp Dirt ’N Drive, stay tuned to jpmagazine.com and fourwheeler.com, and follow us on Facebook and Instagram. Application period for the 2019 Jp Dirt ’N Drive opens around the first of the year.

The cinders offered better traction than sand, and there were plenty of tall hills to climb in the Cinder Hills OHV area.
Everyone had a great time cruising among the craters and cones; you just had to watch out for the trees in this ponderosa pine–forested area.
Grand Falls lies on the Navajo reservation, and at 185 feet high it’s taller than Niagara Falls. It’s dry most of the year, but when the rains or snowmelts come it’s a raging torrent whose thunder can be heard before it’s seen.
Along the edge of the deep gorge below Grand Falls, a number of viewing stations offer a place to sit in the shade and enjoy the scenery.
We chose to stop for a view of Monument Valley’s sandstone towers and spires from the popular photo location known as “Forrest Gump Point.” There is a convenient pull-out at the spot along U.S. Route 163 made famous in the movie as the end of Forrest’s epic cross-country run.
Wild horses were a common sight in the backcountry during the 2018 Jp Dirt ’N Drive from Phoenix to Moab.
Once we left the Monument Valley area, our caravan began its drive into the high-elevation desert of southern Utah, winding through wide-open country with farms and ranches dotting the landscape.
Red rock formations like these along our route were always popular stops for photos and became an even more common sight the deeper we traveled into southeastern Utah.
In keeping with our Tread Lightly ethic, the 2018 Jp Dirt ’N Drive became unofficially known as the “trash tour.” Participants were encouraged to pick up any litter they found along the route.
Stops like Twin Rocks Trading Post in Bluff, Utah, offered food and refreshments, clean bathrooms, and good subjects for photography such as the famous “Bluff Buick” across the street at the Cow Canyon Trading Post.
One of the remote canyons we explored has abandoned cliff dwellings that 1,000 years ago were part of a thriving Native American culture in this region.
Jeep brought two of its Easter Jeep Safari concept vehicles to the 2018 Jp Dirt ’N Drive BBQ and raffle. Participants had an exclusive sneak preview of Sandstorm and the Wagoneer Roadtrip concepts before the “official” press unveiling.

Sponsors

We would like to thank the following sponsors for their support and active participation in the 2018 Jp Dirt ’N Drive presented by Jeep.
jeep.com
bushwacker.com
generaltire.com
jksmfg.com
jwspeaker.com
rampageproducts.com
ruggedradios.com
warn.com

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